Subject: Public Policy and engineering|
From: "Bill Howell. Hussar. Alberta. Canada" <>
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 2018 14:05:34 -0700
To: "Neuczki Mathurin. MASC candidate. Public Policy. Uof Calgary"
It was a pleasure to meet you yesterday at the APEGA Calgary Branch AGM. I really do apologize for my focus on "Computational Intelligence" versus "Artificial Intelligence", and worse, for my doting on the "Dark sides" of intellectualism (this is a general problems, although I spoke of [science, policy]). Neither theme is of much help to you, but if anything perhaps it underlines that not everyone follows much of modern thinking, and although I am perhaps the most extreme example that you could run into (for example, climate skeptics don't like my thinking as it far too extreme for them), I am certainly not alone, and that includes rare university profs and government research scientists (these tend to be among the strong intellects in the sometimes-vacuum of university environments).
You have taken a brave step to broaden your engineering background with public policy. I couldn't understand my friends who almost immediately left engineering right after graduating with a BASc-Eng decades ago, but they were much broader-minded than I, and took the right path for themselves. Of those who I met later, they did very well by their decisions. My own career path resembles Brownian motion, as almost every organisation I worked with (ALL were parts of huge corporations, plus half my career at Natural Resources Canada, CANMET Mining as it is now known), cut back, merged, etc. I even switch to Marketing having partially finish night classes towards a certificate, and worked as a commodity chemicals market research manager (plus Business development) for 3 or 4 years.
You seem to be second-guessing your decision based on courses and research that you are currently doing, but don't despair too easily, and for sure don't follow my comments! We desperately need good public policy people, people that can think far beyond the political correctness that dominates. I had several colleagues who did transition into policy, and who made great contributions. They do need people who can bridge engineering-policy!
You should not hesitate to connect with real public policy people. I never consulted others during my career - stupid! I was never part of any mentoring either, and still wouldn't want that - it was always sink or swim, with a boot behind it, and I'm fine with that. I suggest making contacts within the municipal and/or provincial government policy groups in Alberta, whom you can visit, and hopefully get Master-related projects with (you are likely already doing this). I didn't get the sense that you speak French fluently, which is a big barrier to federal government employment. For years they spend huge [time, money] helping people to become bilingual, but it is very difficult to compete with people who grew up in both environments (notably the "Montreal-Ottawa" corridor, and the New Brunswick corridor), but although that is still probably the case, I suspect the spending may not be what it once was. Quebecers (and many large French communities such as in Alberta) also have a big advantage here.
I wonder if your real interest might lie in having direct influence over major public policy issues, and for that, politics may be a key opportunity. But a background in public policy is a great asset for politics as well.
Do not under-estimate the value of public service employment. My corporate pensions are virtually worthless, whereas my federal pension is invaluable. The benefits and security are not to be under-estimated. And most high-performance people that I knew in the public service were genuinely motivated to serve the public in a good way.
And no, people rarely follow up on contacts - I don't even think of that any more. But eventually networking pays off. I didn't think about it until I retired, but I obtained only two of my 7 jobs (not including perhaps 10 or so very different federal government responsibilities) from a purely open application, all the rest came from people wanting me to work for them. Perhaps one word of advice (biased, from a lunatic) - what do you have as a personal website? Here I do NOT mean facebook, linked in, etc. I don't think anyone ever browses my website - that's not how to find information (quite apart from the fact that I have the [messiest, ugliest] website ever that doesn't really mention my [jobs, neural network society stuff, etc] which are a major part of my time. Strangely once every 3 to 5 years, someone would contact me about one of my long-forgotten documents. These individuals were always "high priority" contacts. Web searches of substantive material may have been the ky. I think that this is declining now, as the search engines are increasingly focussed on critical, high traffic sites and popular themes. Who DOESN'T contact me is as important as who does - as we are all drowning in excessive communications, and almost all of that must flow past us without being tended to.
Volunteer firefighter, 2016-2017, Member of Hussar Lion's Club & Sundowners
P.O. Box 299, Hussar, Alberta, T0J1S0
Mr. Bill Howell
P.O. Box 299, Hussar, Alberta, T0J1S0
member - International Neural Network Society (INNS), IEEE Computational Intelligence Society (IEEE-CIS)
IJCNN2017 Anchorage Publications Chair, mass emails, www.ijcnn.org
WCCI2018 Rio de Janeiro : Publicity committee, http://www.ecomp.poli.br/~wcci2018/committees/
Retired: Science Research Manager (SE-REM-01) at Natural Resources Canada, CanmetMINING, Ottawa
Public Policy Priorities
Past federal government priority issues
(I left in 2012 as part of the 10% personnel cutbacks, and although I was a lab rep on several policy-related workgroups, I never worked as a policy analyst.)
The four big, repeated themes were [women's issues, environment, aboriginals, diversity]. Notice that this does NOT include francophone issues, which at the time had largely been addresses, even though themes never really end. Here are a few [random, scattered] comments :
My own thinking
My own thinking is not aligned with the mainstream, and I'm certainly NOT a politically-correct person to anything like essentially everyone is. Therefore, my views are not of much use to you, except for jokes and a dark laugh. But here are a few items, which I've purposefully couched in "dark terminology" so that you don't take them too seriously :